As an introvert, the mere thought of interacting with people is enough to cause me anxiety. The prospect of interacting with dozens—or hundreds—of people I don’t know is enough to make me want to curl up in the fetal position. And to willingly subject myself to such torture? There has to be a very good reason for me to do such a thing.
My desire to be an author provided the motivation for me to attend my first writers conference. I knew I needed to connect with other writers, meet with agents and editors, and learn things I just couldn’t get from a computer screen. So I went and endured the torture of talking to strangers.
I also discovered something wonderful while I was there. Those people at the conference were my kind of people. They didn’t think it was strange when I spoke of my characters as living, breathing individuals. They understood how every room was viewed through the filter of “possible setting” and how conversations during a meal could spark a much-needed plot twist. Two days of talking about characters and story arcs and the beauty of words was sheer heaven, and it was there at that first conference that my dream became something tangible.
It was enough to make me want to attend another conference, and with each conference I go to, the feeling is reinforced. At each conference I make more friends, friends who get me and how I see the world. You can learn about publishing and the craft of writing online, and you can connect with other writers online, but there’s something about meeting someone face-to-face that you’ll never find on the World Wide Web. Some of the best connections I have, the closest writing friends I have, are those I’ve met at conferences.
Now, instead of dreading it, I look forward to writers conferences and meeting people. And yes, that’s coming from an introvert. Shocking, I know. But the positives have come to far outweigh the negatives. While the social interaction tends to drain me physically and emotionally, being around other writers re-energizes my dream. It fuels my determination to turn my dream into a reality. It’s what makes me sit down day after day and do the work.
It never gets easy, but it does get easier. The secret is to go and keep going. Make new friends and reconnect with old ones. Get involved. Volunteer so you have a reason to talk to people. Ask someone about their book. Even the most introverted introvert can find their voice when you tap into their passion, their dream. And who knows? You could end up adding fuel to your own fire when you do.
For the extrovert’s perspective, be sure to check out my friend Mindy’s post Crowds, Conferences, and Connections: The Extrovert’s Style.
©2014 Kim Vandel